Kyle Blanks’ demotion to Triple-A El Paso and subsequent trade to the A’s after going 2-for-10 in a cameo with the Padres triggered a couple of unrelated events. First, it deprived the world of once again seeing a man listed at 6’6”, 265 pounds rock a uniform emblazoned with a cartoon version of the world’s smallest dog.

Second, it gave the Free Kyle Blanks Club a reason to reconvene after having suspended operations only a week earlier when Blanks was summoned to replace Xavier Nady. Then, after the May 15 trade for Triple-A outfielder Jake Goebbert and a PTBNL or cash, it gave FKBC a reason to celebrate.

Blanks was free at last. Or at least in Oakland.

He was hitting .265/.354/.651 for the Chihuahuas at the time of his May 5 recall. He had more strikeouts than hits, but his nine homers were three times as many as the Padres’ team leader, the DFA’d Nady. Scoring 2.63 runs per game, the Padres desperately needed offense. The theory was that Blanks would help. And although the team averaged 4.57 runs per game during his brief stay, he had precious little to do with that. Read More…

Early yesterday afternoon the Padres announced the call-up of Kyle Blanks.  To make room for him, Xavier Nady was Designated for Assignment.

Initially I couldn’t figure out why a team that dragged Mark Kotsay‘s rotting carcass around for a full season would DFA X. But, Nady isn’t hitting (.135/.238/.405).  Why he isn’t hitting is harder to answer. He did get thrust into a more prominent role than he probably expected.  He was never intended to start regularly, which became something of a requirement thanks to Carlos Quentin‘s seemingly unending rehab, Tommy Medica‘s sudden inability to hit Major League pitching, and Cameron Maybin‘s injury.  Nady played the full 9 in 5 of his first 17 games.  In contrast, Kotsay played a full game in only two of his first 17 appearances last year.  Nady got more work early; it didn’t help.

Another factor might be as simple the timing of his slump.  X was off to a horrid start, as the slash line above shows.  Kotsay, in his first 42 PA last year, hit .333/.381/.359.  Big contributor, got out of the chute hot.  Of course, for the rest of the season Kotsay hit .147/.181/.392, leaving him plenty of time on the bench to perfect his taco recipe.  But that hot start may have cemented his value to the team in the eyes of management, no matter how bad his later performance was.

Xavier seemed to have two things still going for him:  he is the current team leader tied for the team lead in HR (3), and he still terrorizes LHP (SSS, but .200/.368/.667 in 12 PA).  His current OPS+ is 82.  Here’s a complete list of current Padres not meeting that lofty standard.

All of those guys start regularly (except Jace, who’s here until Headley comes back).  On this team, Nady’s an above average hitter.  Hard to part with that, but the offense is struggling.  Who else should get shipped out?  What other hitter is going to get sent down to bring Blanks up?

There’s no question Blanks should have been brought up.  As the above list demonstrates this team is STARVING for offense.  Blanks has been tearing it up in AAA.  The problem is, as I will try to show next, Blanks isn’t a real good answer.

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Sometimes things get a little fuzzy after a night at the pub.  Especially when the bartender agrees to maintain Happy Hour pricing during the game and it goes extra innings.  So here’s a friendly reminder of what you might have missed while you were drinking.

San Diego played its second extra inning game in three days.  Again, it ended in the twelfth; again, the Padres were victorious.  Xavier Nady did something he hasn’t done since Sept 25, 2012.  He singled.  But it was the final key hit in the game, scoring Jedd Gyorko, who had also singled, stolen second, and taken third on a throwing error by Washington catcher Jose Lobaton.

Nady singles.  Gyorko steals a base.  And those don’t even crack the top three of interesting things that happened during the game.  Chase Headley strained his calf (no, not that one; the other one) while hitting in the second inning.  He will most likely be placed on the DL today. Seth Smith also hurt himself running out a ground ball to start the eleventh, so Andrew Cashner took a turn in left field (one hitter) in the bottom of the inning. Tommy Medica takes over in LF, and the eleventh passes without incident; but in the twelfth, Medica slips tracking Bryce Harper‘s fly ball, and Harper turns that into a double.  Which turns fortuitous, when Everth Cabrera snares Lobaton’s line drive up the middle and doubles Harper off second to end the game.  Think the Padres have struggled to hit with runners in scoring position?  Washington went oh for sixteen last night in RISP situations.

Eric Stults pitched into the sixth, continues to love having baserunners on, but was in line for the win until Andy LaRoche homered off Nick Vincent – who I think is from Ramona, not entirely sure there – to tie the game in the seventh.  A succession of Padres relievers held the Nationals off the scoreboard until Huston Street could close it out in the 12th.

These two teams are back at it tonight. Robbie Erlin faces SDSU alum Stephen Strasburg. First pitch is at 4:05.

Recaps

Crazy Ending to Padres-Nationals Game – Schoenfield (ESPN Sweet Spot)

Headley, Smith injured in bizarre win – Lin (SDUT)

Nady’s knock in 12th caps wild Padres win – Brock (mlb.com)

Quote

“It was a bizarre game,” said Nady, who entered in the ninth inning of a game that, figuratively and literally, exhausted the Padres’ roster. “A lot of strange happened.” (Lin, SDUT)

Games! Data! La Forge! To celebrate the fact that the season is now 13 percent complete, here are 13 items of potential interest (stats are through April 22):

  • The difference between the top of the order and the heart has been staggering. Guys in the first two slots have hit .297/.333/.436 (these numbers were even better when I started writing this), while 3 through 6 are at .194/.257/.291 (lowest OPS in baseball, nearly 70 points worse than the Houston Astros). That isn’t the best way to score runs.
  • In an April 17 game at Petco Park, Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki drew three walks, or one more than Everth Cabrera and Will Venable have drawn combined in 158 plate appearances.
  • In 44 plate appearances, Alexi Amarista has drawn more than three times as many walks as Cabrera and Venable. As others have noted, it’s hard to throw strikes to the 5’6” Amarista, although that hasn’t kept him from not drawing walks in the past.

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Sometimes things get a little fuzzy after a day at work.  Especially if you’re trying to get out of work early enough to reach the game, can’t, and then get stuck in traffic.  Here’s a friendly reminder of what you might have missed while you were driving.

The Padres lost to Colorado 3-1 yesterday, splitting the 4-game series with the Rockies.  San Diego pretty much owned the first half of the game, especially Ian Kennedy who retired the first 12 in a row and faced the minimum through 5 innings.  Xavier Nady put the Padres ahead 1-0 in the fourth with his third home run of the year, hitting Morales’ 3-2 pitch  off the facade in left field.

Kennedy also no-hit the Rockies for five, raising hopes this might be THAT day.  Sadly, once again it was not to be.  The third base bag should get an assist (hockey reference) on the first hit Kennedy allowed.  Nolan Arenado practically rolled the ball up the third base line; it hit the bag and bounced and over Alexi Amarista‘s head for a double.  With normalcy restored, Kennedy worked out of trouble, but the Padres were unable to generate any offense to extend their lead.  After Nady’s HR San Diego managed only 2 more hits the rest of the game.

Colorado finally got to Kennedy in the seventh.  A one-out double by Corey Dickerson, followed by a walk to Troy Tulowitzki, brought Justin Morneau to the plate.  His line drive to right was misplayed by Chris Denorfia into a double, tying the score.  In that fifth inning, with a runner on third and one out, and the pitcher hitting, Bud Black had played the infield in.  With the game tied in the seventh, one out, and runners on second on third, he elected to play them back.  Wilin Rosario hit a slow roller to Everth Cabrera, who had no play at the plate on Tulowitzki.  It was a curious decision by Black.  Arenado then singled home Morneau with the final run. 

San Diego had one more gasp.  Denorfia led off the ninth with a single, and Jedd Gyorko lined the next pitch a long way to right-center, but Colorado RF Brandon Barnes ran it down.  Nady then hit into a 1-6-3 double play to end it.

Kennedy deserved a better fate, working 7 innings, allowing 4 hits, striking out 7 and walking 2.  On more a positive note, Chase Headley pinch-hit righthaned in the eighth and lined a single to left.

The Padres will host San Francisco this weekend.  Expect lots of Orange and Black downtown.  Projected starters are Tyson Ross opposite Matt Cain tomorrow, Eric Stults vs Tim Hudson Saturday, and Robbie Erlin against Tim Lincecum on Sunday.

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Sometimes things get a little fuzzy after an afternoon in the pub. And when Gyorko and Nady both go yard, you get so excited to raise your glasses in celebration. Here’s a friendly reminder of what you might have missed while you were drinking.

Tyson Ross out-pitched Max Scherzer in yesterday’s 5-1 Padres win over the Detroit Tigers. Ross went 7 innings, giving up 1 run on 6 hits and a walk with 7 strikeouts. Scherzer lasted just 5 innings, surrendering 4 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks with 10 strikeouts. The problem was one of those hits against Scherzer was a home run by Jedd Gyorko and another was a 2-RBI double by Will Venable. Xavier Nady added a huge pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning to put an exclamation point on the Friars win of the game and their first series win of the season.

Tonight, Eric Stults goes against Jordan Lyles and the Colorado Rockies at PETCO Park at 7:10 pm PDT. This is the first series of the season between the two teams.

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Spring Training provides an opportunity for fans to view the lesser-seen pieces and dream upon the futures of players yet to take a single at-bat for the big league squad, but could dramatically alter the franchise’s trajectory. It’s escapism from the realities of an organization that has branded themselves as “snake-bit,” and that fans have seen as underwhelming. So, just hours from first pitch and the beginning of the 2014 season, here’s a look back at five days of (mostly) rampant optimism in the desert.

When parents plan their son or daughter’s first trip to Spring Training, they likely envision parcels of perfectly manicured grass. Sun-kissed mornings where millionaire ballplayers and long shots share a field and play a game with the same childlike wonder and enthusiasm that they hope, one day, their own child will possess. My son’s first Spring Training started a bit differently, as a complete stranger challenged me to a fight at Terminal 4 of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport. In the end, it’s all about creating memories. So begins our journey.

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Forgive the extended absence. Between writing the Padres chapter for Baseball Prospectus 2014 and editing BP’s Futures Guide 2014, I’ve been busy.

That didn’t stop me from watching a few spring training games. I saw two in person and three or four on MLB.tv, depending on whether you count the parts where I fell asleep.

I also saw some backfield practice sessions, although not as many as I’d have liked. If you ever go to spring training, be sure to hit those and watch the prospects do drill after drill as they hone their craft. For me, the practices are better than the games.

Anyway, I took notes:

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